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With its feathery green foliage, maidenhair fern makes a graceful addition to shade gardens or areas of the home that offer it humidity and diffused light. Make the commitment to providing this plant the living conditions it requires and you’ll be rewarded with a specimen that enhances the landscape or brings the beauty of nature indoors.
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garden plans for Maidenhair fern
Surprisingly, many species of this delicate, tropical-looking plant are winter hardy; some are even native to the United States. No matter which species you grow, all maidenhair ferns feature light green compound leaves comprised of small leaflets. Several species and varieties bear new growth in pink or red that eventually ages to green. Most maidenhair ferns sport striking shiny black leaf stalks (petioles) that stand out against all the green foliage.
Maidenhair Care Must-Knows
In their native habitats, maidenhair ferns are quite vigorous and spread by branched rhizomes beneath the soil. Perennial species of maidenhair ferns, for example, grow in cool, humid areas such as rock walls over streams. This can be a tricky habitat to recreate in a home setting. Just keep in mind that ferns like organically rich, well-drained, moisture-retentive soils. Amend your garden soil, if needed, with compost and organic matter. Don't let maidenhair ferns dry out, or they'll die back and go dormant.
It's also important to keep this fern sheltered, since its delicate leaves can quickly burn and dry out with too much sun. Plant it in a shady location where any direct sun (if it's a factor) reaches the plant only early in the morning when it's less intense. For a visual treat, plant maidenhair fern atop a rock wall where its graceful foliage can spill over the edge.
Take special care when growing maidenhair fern indoors, because home environments are often too dry for this plant. Consistently moist but well-drained potting soil is a must, since it replicates the plant's natural habitat in humus-rich woodlands. Growing this fern beneath a cloche or in a terrarium may solve the humidity problem. But keep the fern out of direct sun, or you risk cooking it within the enclosed environment. In addition to or in place of daily misting, you may want to place a saucer filled with pebbles beneath the potted plant. Fill the saucer with water to just below the top of the pebbles. As the water evaporates, it creates a humid microclimate around the plant. Avoid sitting the pot near heat registers and cooling vents, or in drafty areas. Don't overwater; saturated soil may lead to stem or root rot. And never let the roots die out, or the plant may shrivel up and die.